On Saturday, Feb 1, Boy Scouts from Maiden, troop 303, Hawk patrol, came to FCW for instruction in a basic woodworking technique.
Rick, one of FCW’s woodworkers showed four of the scouts how to create overlapping joints in wood strips. Starting off with safety, instruction followed with the basics of the table saw, then how to create lap joints (without using a dado). The eventual project is to create picture frames.
The workshop lasted three hours and terminated with pizza and snacks. Additional instruction will be on Feb. 8, then another group will be later. This is FCW’s first direct workshop with Scouts. This troop came by the December Open House and were interested in numerous activities at FCW. In addition to woodworking, we hope to help Scout troops in the region with Ham Radio, Electronics, Robotics and other activities of interest.
On January 17, 2014, ten 6th graders from Granite Falls Middle School and their teacher were treated to a technical workshop at FCW. In November 2012, the teacher, Randy, toured FCW and talked to us about classes/workshops that could be used to help stimulate interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) for students in his class. He was particularly interested in a hands-on project and something that could be taken back to the school.
Several possibilities were discussed and Randy decided on trying to build several of the Eggbots – the open source art robot kit from EvilMadScientist.com. The kit as available was too expensive so, it was decided to try to re-design it as a less-expensive version. With Rich taking the lead, the mechanical portion was re-designed with three goals in mind: 1) make as many parts at FCW as possible, 2) make it easier to assemble, and 3) make it more robust. By simplifying some of the mechanical portions, all of the mechanical parts could be fabricated at FCW using the laser cutter and the machine shop. These modifications cut the price nearly in half. A donation of the stepper motors, cut the price again so that the final version was nearly 1/4 the cost of the original kit.
GFMS raised the money to build five units with 25 students. It was decided to split the class into a group of 10 students for the first workshop, building two of the bots, with the remaining 15 students building three units at a later workshop. The assembly of each unit was organized into separate sections so that each student contributed to the assembly.
The ten students arrived at 8AM on Jan. 17. Rich, Michelle and Randy assisted the students in the assembly, which took approximately two hours. The students were then given a quick introduction to Inkscape, an open-sourcce vector drawing package with extensions to drive the bot. The assembly was optimized for drawing on ping-pong balls using fine point Sharpie markers. After assembly, the students were given ping-pong balls and assisted in creating examples for testing. There were a few minor glitches, but each student got experience in creating and drawing text, logos, or smiley faces. After watching the bot draw, one of the students exclaimed, “Wow! We built that.”
Afterward, the students were allowed to watch the laser cutter cut out a set of mechanical parts for one of the bots. They ate lunch and left by 11:45. It was a fun day for those of us at FCW and an educational day for the students, since they got an introduction to CNC, fabrication, robotics and embedded control. All of the students want to come back for another project. We are looking forward to the second group sometime this Spring.
FCW has worked with schools previously, assisting both the robotics and drama clubs at South Caldwell High School but this has been the first actual class to use the facilities and the youngest group. We are hoping to work with several schools in Caldwell, Catawba, and Burke counties on projects and events.
This event was covered by both the Granite Falls Journal and the Lenoir News-Topic.
FCW is will hold an introductory Blender 3D ( http://www.blender.org/ ) class on Saturday, August 10th from noon until 4:00 PM in the FCW classroom and which is open to all interested parties.
The class will cover:
– an overview of 3D computer graphics
– the Blender 3D interface
– object modeling and adding materials and textures
– an overview of the other Blender features (animation, game engine, physics engine)
The class will alternate between lecture and hands-on. Students should bring a computer (PC, Linux or Mac) with version 2.66a (or higher) of Blender 3D installed on it.
Blender 3D can be difficult to operate on a laptop unless you have a mouse and have (or can emulate) a number pad. Students should bring a 3-button (or wheel) mouse and may want to use a full-size keyboard or view these videos:
( http://foothillscommunityworkshop.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=371#p1001 )
This will be a repeat of a previous introductory class with the possibility of other classes, if there is enough interest. These classes may be on more advanced topics or repeats of the intro class.
FCW will be conducting an entry level (Technician) Ham Radio workshop on two consecutive Saturdays, July 20,27 from noon until 2PM. Study materials and example tests can be found at http://www.qrz.com/ under the “resources” tab. This workshop is open to anyone interested in obtaining an Amateur (Ham) radio license.
Also, the VE exams for Ham Radio will be given at FCW on Saturday, August 3 at noon. All levels will be available and the exams are open to the public. A photo ID is required.
FCW now has seven members who are also hams. The station K4FCW is available to members at any time using the permissions of their license. In addition, group contests and events are conducted often to help familiarize members and guests with operating procedures.
Six months ago I started teaching a class on Machining. We held one two hour session each Tuesday. The students where Dave Propst, Kaleb Watson and Ed Cooper. The primary goal of the class was to impart enough knowledge to the students so that they could safely and effectively use the machine shop without supervision. The two primary tools were the metal lathe and the CNC milling machine. I have always learned best by doing a project that forces me to learn the given subject. To that end I asked the students to build a steam engine. Through the course of the class we worked on the easiest part first, the second easiest part next, and so on. This introduced new operations and safety procedures as they were needed.
We had the last class two weeks ago. Dave, Kaleb and Ed are now fully qualified to use the equipment without supervision. In the picture above you can see the engines built by Kaleb and Dave. Unfortunately, Ed was not available for the photography session. Oh, and by the way, all of their engines worked at first try. Congratulations Kaleb, Dave and Ed for your perseverance through all of those weeks.
There will be more of these classes as we get enough students to hold them.
This February, FCW offered a four week workshop on the ST32F4 Discovery Board from ST Microelectronics. This board contains a ST32f4 ARM based processor with 1MB flash and 192K RAM. The board also contains a 3 axis accelerometer, a digital microphone, an audio DAC with class D speaker driver, several LEDs, 2 pushbuttons, and headers to connect to external circuits. The board can be programmed via its own toolchain or by GCC.
Rich conducted the workshop with six students. Topics covered included the features of the board,, use of interrupts, accessing the on-board peripherals,and an introduction to C programming.
This board is being used in projects at FCW. FCW plans to offer additional workshops in various microprocessors including AVR, ARM, PIC, Picaxe, and Propeller processors.
This Summer, FCW held a workshop in Digital-Electronics: Gates. The five participants were introduced to the essential gates (AND, OR, NAND, NOR, XOR, XNOR, and NOT) that make up all digital systems. Hands-on lab exercises using digital trainers and solderless breadboards allowed the participants to connect the “chips” to switches and indicators so as to illustrate the basic logic functions. Describing digital circuits using logic diagrams, truth tables, and Boolean equations was also introduced.
The workshop was conducted by Michelle Suddreth, who has 30 years of experience with digital design and troubleshooting.
This is the first of 5 workshops in digital electronics. In addition to the workshop on Gates, additional workshops are planned as “MSI – Encoders, Decoders, and Multiplexing“, “MSI – Flip Flops, Counters, Shift Registers“, “Sequential Circuits“, and “Introduction to VHDL“.
These should provide enough information to allow additional circuitry to be used with microcontrollers or PLDs.
A Basic Electronics Workshop will be conducted at FCW from 10AM -2PM on Saturday, April 28, 2012. This workshop is intended to introduce simple electronics concepts to those with no electronics background.
Voltage, Current, Resistance and Power
Component Identification and purposes
Simple Circuit Configurations
Lab exercises will be included to:
Use a multimeter to make measurements
Connect simple electric and electronic circuits
Rich Goldner will be the instructor. He has extensive experience with electronic and microprocessor circuits. There are 6 slots available. Leave a message for Rich or the general FCW contact to reserve a place.